The first day of PELeCON kicked off in style and I am really looking forward to what will be happening today during the second day.
A few words about Plymouth and its University. Plymouth is really quite nice – the sea surrounding the area, the walk around the Hoe, the old Barbican Area – a great setting indeed. The University is quite central too, withing easy reach – just a few mins walk from where I am staying which is excellent.
So when I got to University, I went to the registration desk and I got my card. My Mac gave me some initial problems to connect via Eduroam, mostly because I already had Eduroam keychain from my own University and I guess Mac didn’t like it. Anyway the staff were really quite helpful and very soon I could connect and start tweeting 🙂
I first went to the Robot show – amazing little things doing all the cute actions – if you are skilled enough to make them do all the right moves! However these little guys are also great footballers apparently and they have qualified for the Robot World Cup that will be held in Mexico in May this year. Good luck little champs…(You can like their page on Facebook too – got to check out some videos of their achievements)
Next I had a choice of attending either the student technology showcase or the Technology Enhanced Learning session. I chose the latter but from the number of tweets I am sorry I didn’t attend go in to see the technology showcase. However the TEL session was also quite good, very informative, very practical, and the presenters gave quite some good insights into online course delivery. For example if we’re talking about online course delivery, does it mean that the number of staff to student ratio can decrease? According to Jason Truscott, certainly not. They use a ratio of about 15:1 student to teacher ratio, and they make sure to try to overcome the challenges related to isolation that can lead to more student dropouts by increasing communication mechanisms – in both asynchronous and synchronous modes. In their particular case example, where they reach an audience over at sea (thus spanning a rather wide geographical area), they use emails, skype conference calls, as well as forums – whilst lectures are held over a Web interface using different modalities such as voice overs, animated and interactive presentations as well as videos. In the second talk which followed, and which was delivered by Claire Spiret, a very important aspect which emerged from their project in collaboration with the Girl Guides Association, was the importance of time for reflection during their learning experience. This notion of regrouping after a week of topic delivery is, in my opinion, one of the most important instructional design aspects, which need to be taken in consideration.
I missed the Edublogging session, but the tweets show that it was followed with a great deal of enthusiasm. However I was in time for Simon Finch’s keynote address – “Something better change” – and what a great keynote it was; stimulating I would say. Simon Finch is a very energetic person and the passion and enthusiasm for Education was quite contagious. He set up a mock classroom, showing how simple things, even otherwise boring content can change, only by tweaking the way the learners are asked to do their tasks. The Tweets during his session kept rolling in and it was hard to keep track of everything, but some things stuck…and these are a few of them:
” What we can do now that we couldn’t do then [he was referring to teaching practices of a decade or more ago] is communicate better.”… and [this is one which I truly believe in]
” it’s not about putting posh words together to sound clever – we keep alienating colleagues. we need empathetic teachers!”
This is so true. Simon was not scared of criticising Education Ministers and Policy Makers. Most often, administrators get a hang on some kind of buzz word or trend, (for example the famous or infamous Interactive Whiteboard), they spend millions chasing the word without changing or shifting the way people think. What emerged from here is that as teachers we really need to start thinking with a different kind of mentality which cannot be detached from what the rest of society is doing. At this point in time, more than resources, infrastructure, or anything else, the challenge that needs to be overcome by the teachers is this kind of detachment from the world they are living in, this notion that “they know everything” and they have given up on changing and improving. As Simon said… “Something better change” because I for one, want to see a better world.